Jen asked me if I have told Tracy Byrd's story yet as he was her favorite in the 1990's. Good time to do it. He was a star that had a very interesting story. Legend says he recorded a Hank Williams SR. song at a recording studio at a local mall in the early 90's, that led to a talent contest with a Nashville record label.
Byrd had a nice career through the 90's that had some gigantic success. From what I remember when he had a big hit - he had a BIG hit. But one thing is for sure, he found fans and a few of his songs became anthems for that particular year, and some for the entire decade. He was in that same group as Mark Chesnutt, Doug Stone, Joe Diffie, Clay Walker and others, that showed up during country's biggest decade, with the biggest stars ever hogging a lot of the spotlight. But much of his music would be big in any era.
Holdin' Heaven - First Number One!
Byrd was from Texas, and he was traditional country make no mistake. His first album had two misfires with the first two singles, then a song called Holdin' Heaven was released as the third single and it went #1, and that song took the album to gold status. It was a nice little song that was catchy and was easy to remember with a slick video that not only captured the era beautifully but helped define it. It set the stage for the next album that became a huge success. It also showcased how likable his voice was. Byrd had a great look, with a big Texas hat, and the trendy Country wear of the era. He looked like Texas, and fans ate it up.
Watermelon Crawl - Was a Gigantic Hit!
No Ordinary Man came out in 1994 and Byrd became an instant contender. The four singles off of it were big songs, with great charting and popular success. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, and The First Step were cool songs, but the other two were huge. Watermelon Crawl was a sensation. It was a big hit on the radio, it was in the dance halls, it had its own line dance, and it was played by every local band on earth, (still is) listeners LOVED it. It became one of those anthems of the decade. And so did the last single, Keeper Of The Stars. It was an enormous hit, and became a staple at weddings everywhere in the country. Funny, they didn't plan to have that be a single, but Byrd wanted it to be as it was popular at his live shows. It is still one of the most requested older songs at most stations. The album was multi-platinum and hugely popular.
Keeper Of The Stars - Biggest Wedding Song Of The 1990's
The next couple years were good to Byrd, great songs like Love Lessons, (which is song I l love) Heaven In My Womans Eyes, and the old Johnny Paycheck song, Don't Take Her She's All I Got were good radio songs. And those albums were successful and Byrd was now a regular on the charts. But the next album, I'm From The Country hit in 1997. The title song to me, is one of the signature songs of the 1990's. It only went to #3, but I can't think of a single artist that wouldn't have LOVED to have that song. But it ended up where it should have. That song was recorded as most of that album was already done, it changed the albums name, and direction. That song is as much of an anthem as any song of the late 1990's.
One Of The Anthems Of The Decade....
Byrd flew high for a few of more years with varying levels of success, There were record label changes, some more hits, greatest hit albums and other projects. But country was pivoting again in the early 2000's, as styles were changing musically and in image. But Byrd had a great run for a number of years. His voice was recognizable, as were a bunch of his songs. Some of his songs were absolutely influential to many young artists coming up. Funny, when we emcee concerts at Blossom, Country Fest, or The Q, and the music is playing well before the show, I hear Tracy Byrd music as much as any.
Love Lessons - A Great Country Love Song
As big of a star as he was, I wonder in another era, without Garth, Alan, Clint, Toby, George and Shania, how huge would some of these other stars be? We will never know, but I do know this. Throughout the 1990's, I'm sure there were times the giants of the era had song envy from Byrd. He recorded some songs everybody wished they had. He contended well, and gave us some monstrous songs of country's biggest decade. And that alone is proof, he left his own mark as much as anyone.